July 12, 2011 / 8:54 AM / in 7 years

Japan to check beef from Fukushima for radiation

TOKYO, July 12 (Reuters) - Beef from areas around Japan’s crippled nuclear plant will be inspected after meat with radiation levels exceeding government safety standards was sold to domestic consumers, the latest food scare in the radiation crisis.

But the timing of comprehensive checks remains unclear due to limited inspection capabilities, local authorities said.

Radioactive cesium three- to six-times higher than safety standards was found in beef shipped to Tokyo from a farmer in Minami Soma city, near Tokyo Electric Power Co’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

A Farm Ministry official said consuming such meat a few times would pose no immediate health risks.

The farmer fed his cows straw that had been left outside after the nuclear plant was hit by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami and began leaking radiation.

“This case is truly an exception. As long as farmers manage feed properly, this won’t happen.” said an official with the local Fukushima government.

“But I know my saying this won’t ease worries among the public. Once we have an incident like this, it will take a considerable amount of time before we can recover.”

The new measures only apply to beef. Radiation is unlikely to accumulate in high amounts in pigs or chicken as they are generally given imported feed, the ministry official said.

Shortly after the disaster, Tokyo warned that babies should not be given tap water because of radiation from the nuclear accident, causing a run on bottled water. The warning was later lifted.

Shipments of certain vegetables from areas near the plant have also been halted due to high radiation levels, while cesium was found at levels above safety limits in tiny “kounago” fish in waters near Fukushima, stoking worries about seafood consumption. (Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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